A new entry in the Omicron Matter – The Drones Launch. Differences have been set aside long enough for the drones to be modified. The day has come to test whether the Omicron devices will work and if something can survive while they are run. Rachael loads the test rats in place. These are rats that Charles had used to test the nano technology on before Millicent gave it to her team. In the process, she finds out an unexpected consequence of the nano technology.
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
I had originally made this chapter part of “Joint Ventures”. But the content was significantly different and I had created enough conflict for one chapter in the activities at the warehouse. This chapter shapes the story line in a new way. This set of entries will more techy. For about a year and half, I worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in radar remote sensing group. Mostly I worked with the geologists and setting up databases. I was astonished at the things we could discern from a craft orbiting Earth. However, I continued to be amazed at some of the feats of our current technology. The idea that we (Earth) could put a probe into orbit around something as small as an asteroid was simply a dream back in the 80s. That we would land something on a planetoid with so little gravity wasn’t even on the radar. As the story progresses, I will try to have real images of the drone destinations.
Thanks for your support. Look for more on Friday.
Rachael opened the panel of the probe. John presented her with a cage holding a dark sewer rat. The two rats sent over had been test subjects of Charles. Having nano technology would help evaluate them and match their own conditions more closely. She looked at it feeling a bit unnerved. Charles was communicating to her through a notebook. She asked, “Charles, do the nanos do anything besides fix you up?”
Charles replied, “You need to be a bit more specific.”
Rachael said, “I swear this rat is scowling at me.”
There was a pause and then, “Cognitive response and capability rise to varying degrees. You are your team mates are absorbing a tremendous amount of information. You were quite intelligent before, but the nanos open gateways that may have been closed. I suppose the rats are no different.”
Rachael replied, “You are telling me this filthy rat is really scowling at me and I am about to stick him in an enclosed chamber subject to hours of potential torment.”
Camille replied, “He is not filthy. I scrubbed the vermin thoroughly before I let them anywhere near me.”
Rachael grimaced and then said to the rat, “Don’t blame me, you sorry bastard.” Then to the computers, “Do we need to worry that they will get loose?”
Charles said, “The chambers are air tight. If somehow they could chew through permaplast, they would reach vacuum which would keep the electronic and gearing safe from the nibblers.” There was another pause and then, “We don’t have to bring them back alive.”
Rachael snapped, “Yes we do.” In a more controlled voice, “It is the whole point…we need to see if we can survive. Dead rats aren’t very useful.”
Camille said, “Pity.”
John shook his head and moved the cage to the opening in the chamber. Rachael prodded and poked the reluctant passenger into place saying, “In you go. There’s no escaping. Beside you’re about to have the ride of a life time.” The rat hopped in and turned back facing her and again she could swear it was glaring at her. She asked John, “Did that rat look right to you?”
John leaned down stared at the rat and then scratched his head saying, “Not sure what is right any more. Don’t think it fancies the trip as much as we do. Can’t say for sure why I know that.” On the other side of the floor, she heard Winifred Stanhope shriek, “That thing bit me!” John smiled and said, “On the other hand, maybe the nanos have made them discriminating.” Rachael smirked and checked the chamber one more time. There was bedding, a water tube and some feed. There wasn’t much, but the trip shouldn’t be long in time. She closed her chamber while Stanhope railed at the other rat and closed the door of her drone.
The drone Rachael worked on would be going to Ceres – an asteroid Millicent had suggested. It was 22 light minutes away, a relatively new term Rachael had learned describing how far light could go in one minute’s time. It was more convenient than 251 million miles and, frankly, more comprehensible. The probe Stanhope was working on would be going to the planet Neptune and gather samples from Triton – one of its moons. That probe would travel 252 light minutes to its destination or the unimaginable distance of 2.8 billion miles. Communicate was impractical at such distances – an issue that would need to be solved over the long haul. However, the drones were relatively autonomous. Charles and Camille provided a set of instructions for each drone. On arrival, the drones would establish orbit and send a “I am here” signal. Ironically the travel time for the signal was such that, in the case of the Triton drone, it would likely be back in storage before the group received the signal – if all went well. After orbit and the signal, the drone had a feature it would find to use as a landing point. It would land take some soil samples and reverse the process. The whole process at their destination might take 90 minutes. Data from Ceres would arrive, but there was little point in trying to send data from Triton.
Smith walked by both drones looking at the two women work, but said nothing. Rachael made sure her hatches were secure and did a visual inspection although she wasn’t sure she would know a flaw if she saw one. Smith asked, “Can we get this little toy run over with now?”
Rachael shrugged and said, “Everything looks ok to me.”
Smith looked at the other drone and said, “Winifred?”
She closed her hatch at last and said, “I think everything is in place.”
Rachael nodded and said, “Charles and Camille verify communication links.”
Both AIs responded “Confirmed”
Rachael looked over at Winifred Stanhope who then said, “Initiate phase 1”
Phase 1 lifted the drones out of the warehouse and then on a flight path to space around Earth. The drones hovered for a moment, switched to stealth mode making them almost impossible to see. The ceiling opened and two rushes of air could be felt as they headed out.
Smith looked at the open ceiling and said, “Ignoring the Morgaine family interference, Earth has its first two astronauts – Rats.”